Brown, Corrick on Canon's newest online directory

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In April, Canon Communications debuted an online directory of suppliers to the medical device manufacturing industry called Media Business spoke to Jason Brown, Canon's VP-e-media since 2008, and Stephen Corrick, who joined Canon as VP of its Medical Device Brands division last September, about the strategy for Qmed and the technology behind it. In addition to Qmed, Canon's medical device division includes In Vitro Diagnostics Technology, Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry, Medical Product & Manufacturing News, Medical Electronics Design and Orthotec as well as three titles covering Europe and Asia.

DD: Qmed is billed as a directory of qualified medical device suppliers. What do you mean by that? Corrick: Previously, we had what I would call an old-fashioned portal called Device Link, which was a catchall for everything we were doing online within the medical device space and it included an online suppliers directory.

We did exhaustive research and had many conversations with our users, the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). They kept telling us they wanted a directory of qualified suppliers. Some suppliers need to be FDA-registered or ISO-certified (International Organization for Standardization). In other cases, OEMs just want to know that the vendor has a track record in the medical space. So the human element is very important here. Some decisions can be by an editor within the e-media group because the information is right there on the companies' websites, but when there are questions, we can go to the editors in my group who know this market very well.

DD: How are you monetizing Qmed?

Brown: Qmed is a lead-generation tool. As a company, we've been looking at lead generation as a monetization model for some time, and we're now developing products to take us there in a serious way. So with Qmed, we encourage users to register and to ask for more information from that supplier through the Qmed listing. We want them to stay with us rather than clicking on an ad and heading over to the supplier's website.

Because we've built Qmed as a template-style platform in Drupal, we can roll out products like Qmed in other divisions, such as Electronics, Plastics and Pharma. Developing these directories on Drupal only takes about a month, so by the end of September, we expect to be in all those markets with new directories.

For all of them, we will use a dashboard that allows vendors who have paid listings within the directory to log in via a secure Web interface and see their metrics from Omniture, DoubleClick, Delve Networks [for video], SOLR [for search] and Drupal [for site analytics] all in one place. No report has to be generated by us.

DD: What other content management systems are being used at Canon and do you anticipate putting them all on one system?

Brown: Our aim is to be a pure Drupal shop within the next 12 months. Currently, we use Wordpress for several of our blogs and Nstein for the sites we acquired this year from Reed Business Information: Electronic Design News, Design News, Test & Measurement World and Packaging Digest. We also have some legacy CMS systems, and several sites have already moved to Drupal, including all our medical device division sites. Between December and March, we spun away the portal and launched standalone websites for each of the brands.

DD:Why shift from a portal strategy to standalone sites?

Brown: Since we have multiple sites pointing to one another and sharing certain content in terms of headlines and feeds, we're improving our search engine rankings. Also, the average page views per visit more than doubled because the content is better organized. We went from about 1.8 page views per visitor to around 3.7 within four weeks of the sites' going live, and that's been maintained in the months since.

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